Mysterious Pentagon footage from secret U.S. investigation into alien encounters

The truth is out there

Known as the Advanced Aerospace Threat Identification Program (AATIP), the initiative was launched by the U.S. Department of Defense in 2007 and operated with an annual budget of $22 million from 2008 to 2011, the Times discovered during a recent investigation.

Harry Reid, a Nevada Democrat who was the Senate majority leader at the time, requested the funding for the programme.

Most of the money in the program went to an aerospace research company run by Robert Bigelow, a billionaire entrepreneur and longtime friend of Reid, the Times said. "I've done something that no one has done before".

Although government funding for the program was gutted in 2012, the program continued operating under the leadership of Luis Elizondo, a military intelligence official.

Leaked records appear to show the U.S. government was secretly investigating reports of aircraft moving at "very high velocities with no visible signs of propulsion, or that hovered with no apparent means of lift". "I've done something that no one has done before", he added.

The program, in collaboration with Bigelow's company, studied videos of reported encounters between military aircraft and UFOs and produced documents about reported sightings.

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"It was determined that there were other, higher priority issues that merited funding, and it was in the best interest of the DoD to make a change", a Pentagon spokesman, Thomas Crosson, said in an email. Bigelow has spoken about his belief in UFOs visiting the United States as well as the existence of aliens.

The passionate phenomenon of UFO sightings and seekers has been around for decades, fueled by stories eye-witness accounts, including the famous story of a spacecraft that reportedly crashed in the New Mexico desert in 1947.

The project concluded that most sightings involved stars, clouds, conventional aircraft or spy planes, although 701 remained unexplained.

Mr Bigelow built a headquarters to store "recovered unidentified aerial phenomena" with researchers who examined people that had "experienced physical effects from encounters with the objects".

In one instance, the program looked at video footage of a Navy F/A-18 Super Hornet surrounded by a glowing object of unknown origin traveling at a high rate of speed in a location that officials declined to identify, the paper said.

Elizondo was clearly a fan of AATIP too, and hasn't given up on UFO research. As part of his decision to leave the Pentagon, he not only sought the release of videos but also penned a letter to Defense Secretary Jim Mattis complaining that a potential security threat was being ignored.

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